Disney to Join Fox, NBC in Hulu Stake

Disney is reportedly taking a major stake in online video site Hulu, joining News Corp. and NBC in streaming its content for the masses. The competition for market share in the online video space has increased, with Hulu battling it out with YouTube, Fox Interactive Media, Microsoft and others.

Disney will join News Corp., NBC Universal and Providence Equity Partners as a joint venture partner and equity owner of Hulu, the streaming-video Website notable for displaying new TV shows such as "24" and older movies. Hulu now has three major networks and 150 other content providers streaming video on the site.

Upon completion of the deal, Hulu will display current and archived Disney and ABC programming, including "Lost" and "Grey's Anatomy." Financial terms were not disclosed, although a news release mentioned that Disney will now have three seats on the Hulu board.

Competition in the world of streaming video has become fierce as of late.

Google's YouTube Web site topped a list of most-watched online video sites in March, recently issued by research company ComScore. According to that list, Google had 40.9 percent of the online video market share, 99 percent of that through YouTube, while Fox Interactive Media came in second with 3 percent and Hulu came in third with 2.6 percent.

Coming in fourth, Yahoo had 2.3 percent of the total online video market, followed by Microsoft with 2.0 percent.

In sum, Americans watched around 14.5 billion online videos during March, an 11 percent increase over the previous month; each of those viewers watched an average of 5.5 hours of online video, with an average of 97 videos per viewer. The ComScore report added that roughly 77.8 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience watches online video.

YouTube has also been busy adding professionally made content to the site, thanks to recent agreements with Sony, CBS and other media companies. Since April, the site has been offering a catalog of vintage TV shows and movies, and promises more to come.

During an April 16 earnings call, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the company had been making "very good progress" getting studios on board to display YouTube content.

The enterprise increasingly sees online video as a potentially useful tool, with companies such as Omniture adding solutions for either monitoring the spread of vital videos across the Internet, or else incorporating streaming video into their most recent applications.